City officials are investigating claims that the company the city hired to run the Sandy Springs Tennis Center won the contract based on misleading information.
The winning bidder says the allegations, made by a losing bidder, are themselves based on misinformation.
City Attorney Wendell Willard said the City Council has requested an investigation. The contract to run the center begins on Jan. 1.
“We’re still investigating it,” Willard said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. We’re trying to get answers to all of the various accusations being made.”
The Tennis Center is located on Abernathy Road. The contract was awarded based on several factors, including third-party evaluations of the bidder’s prior work.
The winning bidder, Groslimond Tennis Services, received referrals from people who appeared to have connections Tennis Academy of the South, another business owned by company President Gery Groslimond. Groslimond said some of the people who made the evaluations are not employed by the company and are not related to any current employees.
“There’s so many blatant inaccuracies,” Groslimond said of the allegations. “I think in today’s world anybody can say anything they want to.”
Sandy Springs City Council awarded the contract to Groslimond Tennis Services on Nov. 6. Groslimond says he was up front with the city when he submitted his bid. Under the contract, Groslimond will pay the city $60,000 to run the center, twice what other bidders offered. In his bid, Groslimond anticipates making $121,000 in net profit from customer fees.
Groslimond is known locally for his work coaching tennis players. He was a tennis coach at Georgia Tech in the 1980s and has run programs at other facilities. He said allegations that he deceived the city and is unqualified to run the center are false.
The city also approved a “runner up” contractor, Operation Tennis, Inc. The company is in line to receive a contract to run the center if the city is unsatisfied with Groslimond’s work.
Bruce Brown, attorney for Operation Tennis, said Groslimond’s proposal contained biased third-party evaluations.
“I’m glad they’re investigating it, but we would hope they would certainly not award the contract to Groslimond until it is determined that Groslimond was candid and upfront in disclosing its connections to the parties who recommended it,” Brown said.
Groslimond said the connections were either disclosed or non-existent.
Michael Gaudette submitted an evaluation, listing his company as “Tennis Pre-Academy.” Records filed with the Georgia Secretary of State list the company’s official name as the Tennis Academy of the South Pre-Academy. Brown said Gaudette’s wife, Shannan McCarthy- Gaudette, works for Gery Groslimond. She was listed as an employee on the Tennis Academy of the South’s website the week of Dec. 7, but her name had been removed by Dec. 12.
Michael Gaudette gave Groslimond a glowing recommendation, marking his work as “exceptional” in his response to the city’s questionnaire. The Gaudettes have not returned messages seeking comment.
Groslimond said McCarthy-Gaudette has never worked for his company and said her name was placed on his website five years ago. He said he removed her name because the company is revamping its website to include information about the Sandy Springs Tennis Center.
“We were trying to have her train advanced kids,” Groslimond said. “She was a highly ranked player. It never worked out.”
In his bid application, Groslimond lists Casey Chapin as a future employee at the Tennis Center and Chapin submitted a positive review based on his work with Groslimond when Chapin supervised the tennis program in Gwinnett County.
Groslimond said Chapin turned down a job offer and will work at the center as an unpaid volunteer. Chapin did not return a message seeking comment while this article was being prepared for publication.
It’s not unusual that people Groslimond regularly interacts with would submit the evaluations, Groslimond said. The tennis community is tight-knit, he said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
In his bid, Groslimond also informed the city that he’s certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association. On the Tennis Academy of the South’s website, he says he is a member. Being a USPTA member makes Groslimond eligible for a line of liability insurance.
When a reporter called the USPTA to check Groslimond’s membership status, the association reported that Groslimond hadn’t been a member since 2010. Other members of the staff were current.
Groslimond said he will renew his membership and said the certification, not the membership, is what’s important.
He said he has been truthful and that his experience shows he is more than qualified to run the center.
“What I’ve tried to do is answer the city forthrightly,” Groslimond said, adding. “I’ve lived in Sandy Springs for 37 years …I’m 60 years old. I would like this to be my last job.”